RAPAPORT... The Birmingham City Council in the U.K. was given the first ''Touchstone Award'' by the British Hallmarking Council in recognition of its initiatives in hallmarking. The award was a 12-inch sterling silver dish incorporating a complete set of hallmarks, including the unique Diamond Jubilee mark and the town marks of all four U.K. Assay Offices -- Birmingham, Edinburgh, London and Sheffield.
The U.K. has a rigorous and long-established hallmarking regime to benefit both consumers and jewelers, but with precious metals reaching historically high prices in the past few years, non-compliance issues were being observed. The city of Birmingham and the Assay Office targeted 21 local Asian jewelers and 19 others and discovered 12 of the jewelers had non-compliant products. Subsequently, they worked with the community on education and awareness to improve compliance.
The British Hallmarking Council's Robert Grice, who led the effort to establish this award, said, “Birmingham’s entry was first-class. It detailed a well-planned, long-term exercise which is being regularly monitored to measure its success.”